Maybe Rodney King was onto something when he entreated on TV, “Can’t we all just get along?” Of course, King’s question came a little late. It was already Day 2 of the riots that engulfed South Central Angeles following the acquittal of three California Highway Patrolmen who claim he was resisting arrest.
This time there have been no riots, or at least so far, and liberal journalists are exultant. “See???!!!” asks Jelani Cobb in an article in “The New Yorker” triumphally named “After the Verdict: The Zimmerman Non-Riots.” (It is interesting that she or her editor chose a photograph in which two black individuals have their fists raised, mimicking a gesture that once upon a time was a symbol of “black power.”)
The text continues in the same semi-delusional vein:
At some point in the saga of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin, it became a truism in certain quarters that a not-guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial would be greeted by fire, chaos, and mob violence. This idea has apparently survived the almost completely peaceful protests over the verdict that took place this weekend: on Monday, Newt Gingrich — a man who has taught history in the state of Georgia — remarked on CNN that those in the crowds were ‘prepared, basically, to be a lynch mob.’ The faulty narrative of impending doom has yielded to an equally inaccurate story of doom narrowly averted.
Cobb at this point veers off-topic into a but-whites-did-it-first airing of grievances, but let’s stay with the main topic. One should indeed take comfort in the fact that the response immediately following the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial was not a systematic torching of black communities throughout the country.
But it’s a little early to declare that we are out of the woods. Two unrelated cases of mob beatings were reported yesterday, one in Baltimore and one in Oakland. A witness to the beating in “Charm City” claims that the assailants, black youths, claimed, “This is for Trayvon.” The victim, by the way, was Hispanic. The attack in Oakland was on a man described as a “filmmaker,” who claims he was attempting to record video of protesters when they descended on him physically.
It is easy to suppose that the eyewitness to the Baltimore attack misheard or was lying. It is equally easy to imagine that the man with the camera in Oakland was a provocateur who egged on protesters.
But it is better to acknowledge the reality that emotions are still raw and that we all need to step back. One hopes that the few minor instances of vandalism and assault being reported out of the Left Coast remain isolated. One also hopes that common sense will prevail in those who, blinded by despair or rage, have threatened the lives of George Zimmerman and his parents.
In the meantime, let’s everyone in the press hold off on the toldja-so’s and the j’accuses. Eh, Jelani?
Howard Portnoy has written for HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, and The George Espenlaub Show.
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